Unintended Consequences: Illegal Drugs and Drug Policies in Nine Countries

Unintended Consequences: Illegal Drugs and Drug Policies in Nine Countries

Unintended Consequences: Illegal Drugs and Drug Policies in Nine Countries

Unintended Consequences: Illegal Drugs and Drug Policies in Nine Countries

Synopsis

Assesses the effectiveness and unintended consequences of the laws and policies designed to criminalise, thwart or otherwise deal with drug production, consumption and trade in nine countries. The book considers what can be done to stop the increasing production of drugs worldwide.

Excerpt

• • •

The woman was perhaps in her late twenties or early thirties. Nattily dressed in a sloppy leather jacket and faded blue jeans with holes in the knees and carrying a tattered leather suitcase, she stood in front of me at a foreign-exchange window in Geneva's international airport in July 1992. I wanted to exchange U.S. currency for Swiss francs.I had two $100 bills to change and a few more in reserve. I hoped she would have enough to get by, but I wondered. Her clothes could be bought at Goodwill Industries in my country for less than $25. And the suitcase? The latch appeared to be broken, requiring the case to be held together with two leather straps buckled at the top, near the handle.The young woman spoke in French but with a heavy Spanish accent.

I noticed her present her passport and another document to the teller. The man consulted his files and then said something to the woman, who lifted her case to the counter and began to undo the buckles. Strange, I thought. And I was in a hurry. But the other line was longer, so I stayed on.

The woman opened the case, revealing at least thirty stacks of U.S. bills.Each stack, perhaps ten to twelve centimeters high, was topped with a $100 bill. With the assistance of an automatic counting machine, the teller began to number the bills. It looked as though there would be a long delay. I queued up in the other line. Five minutes later, when I exchanged my two bills, the teller was still counting. When I passed by the exchange window fifteen minutes later, he was counting still.

Assuming each bill in each stack to be U.S. $100, and assuming the stacking rate to be about 150 bills/centimeter, I calculate the tattered and battered suitcase to have held approximately $5 million. Whose money? Who was the woman working for? What security arrangements attended her travels? Into whose account was the money going? What was the teller thinking? I know what I was thinking—that the teller was counting "dirty" money, at least money that someone wanted to hide.I guessed that it was Colombian drug money.

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